In my links of the day I try to find the links under the wire, articles all the top blogs miss. I'm not afraid to go to Al Jazeera, Kurd Media or to the Pakistan student movement page to bring the real daily news to you.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Links of the Day 3/21/2008 Look Over There not Here While We Give Mortgage Criminals Deferred Sentences!

What a crazy 2 days. Late at night a friend asks me to help move his grandmothers stuff before flood waters hit. We drive 4 hours pack up her stuff, drive away just as the flood waters hit. It was amazing. That was on the 19th.

Then I get up at 2 am yesterday and no internet service. I didn’t get it back till nearly noon. So that is why there were no links of the day.

Now it looks like more rain is coming this way as the flooding widens. Missouri is a disaster area and I’m sitting in the middle with it all around me.


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Ya know I just don’t get it. American people are either the most laziest or uncaring dopes in the world!

Their kids are being screwed out of health care and a good education as Bush demands more money for his 5th year in Iraq. They piss and mourn but do nothing about it.

So I’m still going to do yesterdays blog today.




I went to my congressman Roy Blunt’s office to protest but was told by the mall to leave. He has his office on private property. You can’t even protest in the parking lot.

Well here’s a few other places around the world that held protests since our media only showed protests where the police got ruff with the people.




Protests Across U.S. Mark 5th Anniversary Of Iraq War

The first picture in this series will send chills down your spine. 65 great pictures here.

http://www.zimbio.com/pictures/l6K_ZqzVfMj/Protests+Across+Mark+5th+Anniversary+Iraq





This link will take you to the red state of Minnesota, the writer claims 2000 people but it sure looks like a lot more than that to me.

GREAT PICTURES! The last 2 are my favorites. See even men is business suits want to impeach Bush and husky’s want Bush sent to the Hague.

http://silencedmajority.blogs.com/silenced_majority_portal/2008/03/iraq-war-5th-ye.html




Even the red voters of California where my Bush loving cousin lives.


US Features
In photos: 'USA Iraq War Demonstration'
By M&C News Mar 19, 2008, 19:45 GMT



News in Pictures
Hundreds of people have been arrested during mass protests in the US to mark the fifth anniversary of the Iraq invasion.
Some really good pictures.
http://cbs5.com/slideshows/iraq.war.protests.20.680630.html#


5th Anniversary of Iraq War HARVARD-BOSTON ANTI-WAR PROTESTS 3-19-08 019
Wow lots of great pictures here.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/protestphotos1/


Pictures: Anti-Iraq war protests
Demonstrations on the fifth anniversary of the start of the Iraq War
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/audio_video/photo_galleries/article3590612.ece


5th Anniversary of the War in Iraq Starting Protest.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/revdancatt/2346437014/



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US police crack down on Iraq rallies

Andy Sullivan, WashingtonMarch 21, 2008

MORE than 200 people were arrested across the United States as protesters marked the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq.

There were 32 arrests in Washington on Wednesday night, after demonstrators tried to block entrances to the Internal Revenue Service, while 30 others were arrested outside a congressional office building, police said.

Protesters had hoped to shut down the IRS, the US tax collection agency, to highlight the cost of the war. Police cleared the building's entrances within an hour.

In San Francisco, long a centre of anti-Iraq war sentiment, police arrested 143 who protested through the day along Market Street, in the central business district. Sergeant Steve Maninna said charges included trespassing, resisting arrest and obstructing traffic.

Four women were detained for hanging a large banner off the city's famous Golden Gate Bridge and then released, said bridge spokeswoman Mary Currie.

On Washington's National Mall, about 100 protesters carried signs that read: "The Endlessness justifies the Meaninglessness" and waved upside-down US flags, a traditional sign of distress.
"Bush and Cheney, leaders failed, Bush and Cheney belong in jail," they chanted, referring to President George Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney.

One hour after the IRS stand-off, several dozen protesters waved signs that read: "Stop Paying to Kill" and "How Much Longer?" as a ragtag brass band played. IRS employees were easily able to enter the building.

"We wanted to put our bodies between the money and what that money goes to fund — the war, the occupation, the bombs," said Frida Berrigan, an organiser with the War Resisters' League.
The war has cost the US $US500 billion ($A548.6 billion) since the invasion to topple Saddam Hussein began in March 2003. Tens of thousands of Iraqis have been killed and millions more displaced, with almost 4000 US soldiers killed.

Later, scores of noisy protesters blocked a busy intersection in Washington's business district. They picketed in front of the offices of The Washington Post and threw red paint on the building that houses the Examiner newspaper and Bechtel National Inc, which has handled major reconstruction projects in Iraq.

In New York, about 30 members of the "Granny Peace Brigade" gathered in Times Square, knitting in hand, to demand troops be brought home now.

¦In an audio recording addressed to "those who are wise at the European Union" and released last night, Osama bin Laden threatened the EU with grave punishment for publication of cartoons mocking Islam's prophet, Mohammad.


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Reactions to story from media monarchy

worldwide protests mark 5th anniversary of iraq war
1000s attend antiwar protests in london & glasgow from wikinews: Yesterday, thousands of people attended anti-war protests in London and Glasgow organised by the Stop the War Coalition. The event marks nearly five years since the 2003 invasion of Iraq which begun the Iraq War. The main themes were "Troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan", "Don’t attack Iran", and "End the siege of Gaza"... Estimates
3 days ago Tagged:
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Have you called the UN Human Rights Committee? They only meet once a year and are meeting right now until April 4th

CALL NOW 1-212-963-1234 ask the operator for the Human Rights Committee office.

Chinese Troops Converge in Tibetan Areas

By GREG BAKER – 5 hours ago

ZHONGDIAN, China (AP) — Thousands of troops converged on foot, trucks and helicopters in Tibetan areas of western China on Friday as the government stepped up its hunt for protesters in last week's anti-government riots in Tibet's capital.

The violence in Lhasa — a stunning show of defiance against 57 years of Chinese rule — has sparked sympathy demonstrations in neighboring provinces, prompting Beijing to blanket a huge area with troops and warn tourists and foreign journalists to stay away.

China's communist leadership, embarrassed by the chaos and international criticism of its response, has blamed the unrest on the Dalai Lama and his supporters and vigorously defended its reputation as a suitable host for the Beijing Olympics.

On Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi met with the Dalai Lama in India and called on the world to denounce China's crackdown in Tibet.

Photos of 21 men wanted in connection with the Lhasa riots were posted on major Chinese Internet sites.

A resident in Qinghai province said about 300 troops were in the town of Zeku after monks protested Thursday outside the county government office. The woman, who did not want to give her name for fear authorities would harass her, said she did not dare leave her home and could not provide details of the demonstration.

Telephones at Zeku's government and public security bureau rang unanswered.

In the largely Tibetan town of Zhongdian, in the far north of Yunnan province, some 30 armed police with batons marched in the main square as residents went about their daily life. Overnight, another two dozen trucks of riot police had arrived, adding to a presence of about 400 troops.

Patrols had also been set up in other nearby towns, including the tourist attraction of Tiger Leaping Gorge.

In Xiahe, a city in Gansu province where there were two days of protests last week, the 50-room Xilin Hotel was "completely occupied by police with guns and batons," said a man who answered the telephone and did not want to give his name.

"No tourists are allowed here and we do not feel safe going outside," the man said. He said things had calmed down but vehicles had been patrolling the streets asking Tibetans who had participated in last week's demonstrations to turn themselves in.

Residents in Ganzi county in Sichuan province said they saw troops, trucks and helicopters on patrol.

The massive mobilization of riot police was helping authorities reassert control after the broadest, most sustained protests by Tibetans against Chinese rule in decades. Demonstrations had flared across Sichuan, Gansu and Qinghai provinces in support of protests that were started in Lhasa.

Led by Buddhist monks, protests began peacefully early last week but erupted into rioting on March 14, drawing a harsh response from Chinese authorities.

Numbers for injuries and death tolls have been varied and hard to confirm because China keeps a tight control over information. Tibetan exile groups say 99 people were killed — 80 in Lhasa and 19 in Gansu — while Beijing maintains that 16 died and more than 300 were injured in Lhasa.

The official Xinhua News Agency said Thursday that police shot and wounded four rioters "in self defense" during violent protests on Sunday in Aba County in Sichuan. It is the first time the government has acknowledged shooting any protesters.

The crackdown drew worldwide attention to China's human rights record, threatening to overshadow Beijing's attempts to project an image of unity and prosperity in the lead-up to the Aug. 8-24 Olympics.

Pelosi, one of the fiercest Congressional critics of China, called on the international community to denounce Beijing's rule in Tibet and its handling of the anti-government protests.

"If freedom-loving people throughout the world do not speak out against China and the Chinese in Tibet, we have lost all moral authority to speak out on human rights," Pelosi said before a crowd of thousands of cheering Tibetans in Dharmsala, the seat of the Dalai Lama's government-in-exile.

Pelosi, heading a Congressional delegation, was greeted warmly by the Dalai Lama, who draped a gold scarf around her neck.

On Thursday, the White House said President Bush will still attend the Games but Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged restraint when she spoke to Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi.
Xinhua said Yang blamed the Lhasa riots on the Dalai Lama's supporters.

"They attempted to exert pressure on the Chinese government, disturb the 2008 Beijing Olympics and sabotage China's social stability and harmony," it cited Yang as saying.

In Lhasa on Friday, residents said police were still patrolling the streets and people were free to go where they want as long as they had identity cards.

An employee of the local Coca-Cola distributor said the business was still closed. "Nobody dares to go out," said the man who didn't give his name for fear of retribution.

A woman who answered the telephone at the Religious Affairs Bureau said the Sera and Drepung monasteries, whose monks launched the initial protests, were still closed. The Jokhang temple, Tibet's most sacred shrine and the heart of Lhasa's old city, was also shuttered, she said.

Late Thursday, state broadcaster China Central Television aired a 15-minute program showing how Tibetan rioters rampaged through Lhasa last week but none of the ensuing police crackdown.

Video from security cameras showed burned shops, wounded Chinese and a knife-wielding Tibetan standing atop a police car. Buddhist monks were shown throwing sticks and other debris at riot police in a scuffle on March 10, in an attempt to portray the protests as having been started by monks.

The photos of the 21 men posted on the Internet appeared to be taken from videos and cameras and were shown under the heading of "Lhasa Public Security Bureau's Wanted List of Criminal Suspects for Beating, Smashing, Looting and Burning."

The images included a man with a mustache who has been shown on news programs slashing at another man with a foot-long blade. Another suspect wielded what appeared to be a long sword.
One of the suspects has already been apprehended and another turned himself in, the government's China News Agency reported without giving any details. Their photos were later taken down.

Authorities were offering rewards and guaranteed the anonymity of tipsters.
The Lhasa Public Security Bureau refused to comment on the photos.

http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5h5Z6bJwtN_roGSIUQiQnfbf2NkhgD8VHM4IG1



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US lawmaker demands Tibet inquiry

A senior US lawmaker, Nancy Pelosi, has called for an independent investigation into China's claims that the Dalai Lama instigated the violence in Tibet.

Ms Pelosi, Speaker of the US House of Representatives, also called on the international community to denounce Chinese rule in Tibet.

She spoke out while holding talks in northern India with the Dalai Lama.

The Chinese authorities are continuing to tighten security following days of protests by Tibetans.
China says 16 people have been killed by rioters in Lhasa, the main city. The Tibetan government-in-exile - headed by the Dalai Lama, regarded by many Tibetans as their spiritual leader - says at least 99 people have died in the crackdown by Chinese troops.

Chinese officials have accused the Dalai Lama and his supporters of organising violent clashes in Tibet in an attempt to sabotage this summer's Beijing Olympics and promote Tibetan independence.

Correspondents say the protests have presented the biggest challenge to Chinese rule in Tibet in almost two decades.

Olympics boycott

Speaking in Dharamsala, seat of Tibet's government-in-exile, Ms Pelosi said: "We call upon the international community to have an independent outside investigation on accusations made by the Chinese government that His Holiness [the Dalai Lama] was the instigator of violence in Tibet."

She added: "The situation in Tibet is a challenge to the conscience of the world.
"If freedom-loving people throughout the world do not speak out against China and the Chinese in Tibet, we have lost all moral authority to speak out on human rights."

Ms Pelosi said she was not seeking a boycott of the Beijing Olympics, but warned that the "world is watching" events in China.

Ms Pelosi is one of the sharpest critics of Beijing's human rights record in the US Congress.
Her visit at the head of a congressional delegation was planned before the protests began.
Rifles and bayonets Anti-China protests began on 10 March in Lhasa and gradually escalated, spreading to Tibetan communities in neighbouring Gansu, Sichuan and Qinghai provinces.
China is not allowing foreign journalists into Tibet. Troops have also sealed off towns in the surrounding areas where unrest has taken place, witnesses say.

But the BBC's James Reynolds spent 24 hours in Hezuo in Gansu, where earlier this week Tibetan protesters tore down the Chinese flag.

Chinese security forces had swamped the town and the streets were full of police cars, check points and military trucks.

On the southern entrance to Hezuo there were rows of soldiers carrying AK47 rifles and bayonets, our correspondent said.

Public notices and police broadcasts told protesters to surrender by midnight on 25 March or face arrest and punishment.

Other witnesses have reported seeing hundreds of troop carriers heading for Tibetan areas in recent days.

Protesters shot

On Thursday Chinese authorities admitted for the first time that members of the security forces had fired on Tibetan protesters.

Police wounded four protesters "in self-defence" last Sunday in Aba county, a Tibetan area of Sichuan province, Xinhua news agency said.

An earlier Xinhua report said police had shot the four dead, but it was quickly changed.
Xinhua did not provide further details of the incident, but Tibetan activists say at least eight people were killed at a demonstration against Chinese rule near the Kirti monastery in Aba on Sunday.

Earlier this week, the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy circulated photos of bodies with apparent gunshot wounds, which it said were the result of police firing indiscriminately at protesters.

On Thursday, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice held telephone talks with her Chinese counterpart, Yang Jiechi, in which she urged Beijing to show restraint.

But Mr Yang told her the protesters were trying to sabotage both the Olympics and social stability - and reiterated China's position that it blamed the Dalai Lama for the violence.

The Dalai Lama - who in 1989 won the Nobel Peace Price for his commitment to non-violence in the quest for Tibetan self-rule - has called for talks with Chinese President Hu Jintao.


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Bin Laden threatens Europe in new audio message

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Al-Qa'ida leader Osama bin Laden has issued a warning to Europe in an audio message posted on the Internet last night.

The message lashes out at the reprinting of the controversial Danish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed which have caused outrage in the Muslim world.

Bin Laden describes the caricatures as part of a "new crusade" and says they are a greater offense than the bombing of women and children Iraq and Afghanistan.

"The punishment will also be more severe," he adds.


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Republicans repeat their illegal activities.
This is a must read article.


Obama's Passportgate: Historical Echo

By Robert Parry March 21, 2008

The State Department announced on March 20 that two State Department contractors were fired and a third disciplined for accessing Obama’s files. Based on preliminary information, it was unclear what the motive of the Obama search was.

In 1992, the evidence revealed that representatives of George H.W. Bush, then fighting for a second term, pulled strings at the State Department and at U.S. embassies in Europe to uncover and disseminate derogatory information about Bill Clinton’s loyalty and his student trips to the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia.

That assault on Clinton’s patriotism moved into high gear on the night of Sept. 30, 1992, when Assistant Secretary of State Elizabeth Tamposi – under pressure from the White House – ordered three aides to pore through Clinton’s passport files in search of a purported letter in which Clinton supposedly sought to renounce his citizenship.

Though no letter was found, Tamposi still injected the suspicions into the campaign by citing a small tear in the corner of Clinton’s passport application as evidence that someone might have tampered with the file, presumably to remove the supposed letter. She fashioned that speculation into a criminal referral to the FBI.

Within hours, someone from the Bush camp leaked word about the confidential FBI investigation to reporters at Newsweek magazine. The Newsweek story about the tampering investigation hit the newsstands on Oct. 4.

The article suggested that a Clinton backer might have removed incriminating material from Clinton’s passport file, precisely the spin that the Bush people wanted.

Immediately, President George H.W. Bush took the offensive, using the press frenzy over the criminal referral to attack Clinton’s patriotism on a variety of fronts, including his student trip to the Soviet Union in 1970. With his patriotism challenged, Clinton saw his once-formidable lead shrink. Panic spread through the Clinton campaign.

Bush allies put out another suspicion, that Clinton might have been a KGB “agent of influence.” Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s Washington Times headlined that allegation on Oct. 5, 1992, a story that attracted President Bush’s personal interest.

“Now there are stories that Clinton … may have gone to Moscow as [a] guest of the KGB,” Bush wrote in his diary that day. [For the fullest account of the 1992 Passportgate case, see Robert Parry’s Secrecy & Privilege.]


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This article tells us the true definition of Assholes.



Infected Australian computers fetch top dollar

March 21, 2008 - 10:33AM

Hackers are paying top dollar on international blackmarkets for computers from Australia that have been unknowingly hijacked and infected with spyware.

A Russian malware distribution site offers $US100 for a haul of 1000 spyware-infected Australian machines, double the price offered for US machines and 30 times more than those from Asia.

Philip Routley, product marketing manager at internet security firm MessageLabs, said he believed the high price tag on Australian machines was due to the fact that Australians were more ignorant about computer security threats than people from other parts of the world.

The Russian site, InstallsCash, offers to pay unscrupulous website operators for every 1000 machines they infect with spyware. All the website operator has to do is insert a line of code into their web page, and anyone visiting that site is infected with spyware.

For instance, someone could load the code on to their website and if the site is viewed by 100,000 Australians in a day, the site operator could earn up to $10,000 in one hit, assuming all viewers are infected.

------------------------------------Have you been the unwitting victim of a botnet scam? Email us and tell us about it: scoop@theage.com.au------------------------------------

Infected machines are then added to a "botnet" controlled by InstallsCash, and the party responsible for the infection is paid accordingly.

A botnet - sometimes called a zombie network - is a remotely-controlled group of computers that have been infected by a virus. The computers owners have no inkling that their machines are infected.

Hackers often buy and sell botnets in order to use the computers' horsepower and internet connections to surreptitiously send spam emails, launch thousands of virus attacks or host malicious sites.

Routley said infected PCs in Australia were in demand by spammers and spyware writers because of "low awareness and [a lack of] checks in place by users to look for infected PCs that might be part of a botnet".

This means there is a higher chance that hackers can maintain control of Australian PCs for longer.

"Consumers need to regularly ensure their security software is up to date and run regular scans for spyware and other malware," Routley said.

"Organisations need to roll out regular third party independent tests on the security of their websites."

Prices (US dollars per 1000 infected machines)
Australia 100
UK 60
Italy 60
US 50
France 25
Netherlands 25
Denmark 25
Spain 25
Greece 25
Poland 18
Other 18
Asia 3

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March 21, 2008

US Anti-War Leaders Said Being Sent To CIA Torture Bases

By: Sorcha Faal, and as reported to her Western Subscribers (Traducción al Español abajo)

Disturbing reports from the United States are emerging today that their War Leaders have ordered a crackdown on all opposition to their Mideast wars, to include the sending of American Anti-War leaders to CIA torture bases in Romania and Egypt.

Though not being reported by the US propaganda media organs, Western reports are stating that, so far, nearly 200 American antiwar activists have been attacked and arrested by black helmeted paramilitary police forces, with over 140 being reported captured in San Francisco alone.

FSB reports are further stating that as many as 12 of the American antiwar protest leaders have been ‘removed’ from the United States and sent to CIA torture bases, and which appears to be confirmed by Ireland’s Limerick Leader News Service who are reporting that the CIA has, indeed, resumed its torture flights, and as we can read:

Not being understood by the people of the United States is that their government does have the power to remove, imprison and torture any of them, for any reason, and as established by the case of Jose Padilla, an American citizen jailed and tortured for over 4 years by the US Military.
Most frightening, however, about the Jose Padilla case, is the US Federal Court Ruling regarding the holding of American citizens without rights or trials, and as we can read:

Even more horrific for these American’s future are their War Leaders support of the use of torture, and as we can read as reported by the Associated Press News Service:

It is interesting to note, too, that one of the United States most respected literary giants, Naomi Wolf, has, likewise, attempted to warn her fellow American citizens about the growing dangers they are facing with the publication of her book, “The End of America: A Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot”, and which details the ‘10 Steps’ all Fascist governments use to create their police state nations, and which are:

1. Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy

2. Create a gulag

3. Develop a thug caste

4. Set up an internal surveillance system
5. Harass citizens' groups

6. Engage in arbitrary detention and release

7. Target key individuals

8. Control the press

9. Dissent equals treason

10. Suspend the rule of law

Sadly, however, there remains no evidence that the American people are heeding the warnings of the dangers they are facing with the destruction of their Nation, and which eerily echo’s the words of warning of German Pastor Friedrich Martin Niemöller, and who attempted to warn his people of the danger the Nazi’s posed for their once great country with his famous poem ‘First They Came’, and whose words are as relevant today to the Americans as they were prophetic to the Germans, and are worth our attention again:


"In Germany, they came first for the Communists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist;

And then they came for the trade unionists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist;

And then they came for the Jews, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew;

And then . . . they came for me . . . And by that time there was no one left to speak up."

Translation to Spanish by: Sister Maru Barraza, Mazatlán, Mexico

http://www.whatdoesitmean.com/index1081.htm




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Media goes on and on about Obama’s Reverend but ignore the FBI probe of 17 Mortgage companies.
Republicans love their criminals, look at Oliver North they gave him his own t.v. show.

INCREDIBLE

THESE B*STARDS ARE GETTING DEFERRED SENTENCES!!!



EXCLUSIVE-FBI Mortgage Probe Examining 17 Large Firms

Tue Mar 18, 2008 6:00pm EDT
By Randall Mikkelsen

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The FBI's criminal probe of the mortgage lending industry has grown to 17 firms, involves large companies, and could take years to conclude, bureau officials said on Tuesday in a Reuters interview.

The investigation now involves 17 firms, up from 16 previously acknowledged, the officials said.
"The corporate fraud cases are pretty large entities," said Neil Power, economic crimes unit chief of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's financial crimes section. "The majority I would think we're looking at years."

Power declined to comment when asked if the FBI was looking into the collapse of Bear Stearns, which led to an emergency sale to JPMorgan Chase ("Quote, #"Profile,"Research)
last weekend. However, he said, "common sense would indicate that we would look at something that big."

The hundreds of FBI agents taking part in the probe are looking at issues including all phases of the process of securitizing loans, insider trading and whether firms properly disclosed the value of their assets.

Corporate employees ranging from senior executives to lower-level management were under scrutiny, an official said.

The officials described widespread opportunities for fraud in the industry, which can all be traced back to human greed, and to lax documentation in loan applications, which allowed for loans based on false values or income.

"The problem is that banks weren't doing their due diligence," Power said.

The FBI disclosed in January that it was investigating 14 firms in its probe of the mortgage-lending industry, where a foreclosure crisis has spread from subprime lenders to the housing market overall, shaken Wall Street and major financial institutions, and threatened the U.S. economy with recession.

The FBI later raised the number of targets to 16. That has since grown to 17, Power said, but the number changes as investigations open and close. Asked if the number would grow, he said "yes," but declined further characterization and said the probes were in preliminary stages.
Among companies implicated in FBI mortgage probes are Beazer Homes ("Quote,"Profile, #Research) and Doral Financial Corp ( uote,Profile, Research ) A former Doral treasurer was indicted for investment fraud earlier this month. He denied the allegations and the company declined to comment.

The largest U.S. mortgage lender, Countrywide (Quote, #Profile, #Research), is also under FBI investigation, authorities have said, although the FBI has declined to comment and Countrywide said it was unaware of any investigation.

When the FBI disclosed its industry investigation, major investment banks Goldman Sachs (Quote,"Profile, Research), Morgan Stanley (Quote, #Profile, Research) and Bear Stearns Cos (Quote,Profile,Research) each said the government had asked them for information, but there was no confirmation of any FBI role and Power declined to comment on individual targets.

HUNDREDS OF AGENTS

The FBI has assigned 100 agents to investigate corporate fraud aspects of the housing crisis, including subprime lending and insider trading. Another 150 are looking at related securities fraud, and 153 are looking at loan originations, officials said.

The investigations are being conducted out of local field offices. The majority of cases are in New York and California, he said.

FBI agents were working in conjunction with the Securities and Exchange Commission and other federal agencies as part of a Justice Department mortgage fraud group, Power said. He said a majority of the FBI corporate cases were referred to the agency by the SEC, and the two agencies were working hand in hand.

The task force has been meeting regularly to compare notes and go over fast-developing trends and threats. "We meet on an ongoing basis once a crisis is happening, which is happening pretty much every week now," Power said.

Decisions on any charges are up to federal prosecutors and not the FBI, but individuals are likely to be prosecuted, Power said.

DEFERRED PROSECUTION

The government has been wary of prosecuting an entire company, after accounting firm Arthur Anderson shut down in 2002 as a result of its prosecution in the Enron energy firm collapse.
Asked if this caution would be a factor in the mortgage probe, Power pointed to the Justice Department's guidance which encourages "deferred prosecution agreements," in which companies agree to change their behavior under a monitor's oversight, as an alternative to indictment.

But he said individuals would face prosecution, and FBI spokesman Stephen Kodak said the investigators are targeting "all gamuts" of employees ranging from senior executives to lower level managers.

The opportunities for fraud existed all along the chain from mortgage origination to the investors in mortgage-backed securities. But the problems begin in loan applications that required minimal or no documentation, the officials said.

"That's the start of the fraud right there," said Mike Cuff, a supervisory special agent in the economic crimes unit.

The poorly documented loans then made their way through the securitization system, through brokers and appraisers, and into investments and corporate balance sheets.
"We're looking at all phases of the securitization," Power said.

Power said the mortgage crisis demonstrates a need for regulatory reform. But he said the industry's vulnerability to large-scale fraud has been known for years.

In 2004, when house values were soaring and the mortgage industry booming, an FBI criminal division official, Chris Swecker, sounded a prescient warning to Congress:

"If fraudulent practices become systemic within the mortgage industry and mortgage fraud is allowed to become unrestrained, it will ultimately place financial institutions at risk and have adverse effects on the stock market," he said.
(Editing by Philip Barbara)


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IRAQ


We live in a nightmare. Death and carnage is everywhere' Ali, Baghdad resident
Ghaith Abdul-Ahad in Baghdad
The Guardian, Thursday March 20 2008

In most cities of the world a person might expect to be feted for surviving a single bomb attack. In Baghdad, survival stories can be found on every street corner.

Ali is a painter and a student at the academy of art in north Baghdad. A few years ago he moved to the Baghdad suburb of Karrada, where many artists live because of its art market.

When I meet him, Ali is limping slightly. A white bandage protrudes from the sleeve of his striped jumper, and he frequently drops his left shoulder so that his arm rests on his thigh. These are the only outward signs of the injuries he sustained in the previous week.

In a shy, soft voice Ali tells me how he had been standing with a friend in Karrada when a bomb went off at the side of the road. "I heard an explosion very close by," he says. "I saw smoke and chaos and people screaming. I saw my friend Hassan, who was running and carrying a child who had lost an arm.
I saw a nice-looking girl - the Karrada girls, you know how beautiful they are. She was dead. And I saw a girl who had only one eye.

"I couldn't bear it," he tells me. "I started to scream and cry.

"Then suddenly there was another explosion. This time, you know, I didn't hear much, I just saw a tall column of orange fire a few metres away from me and then smoke. I didn't know what had happened, but the people who had run over to tend the injured from the first bomb were now lying on the street screaming.

"I stood there in the middle of it all. I saw people picking bodies up and carrying them. A police car arrived and the police started to fire bullets in the air. I ran away and hid at the entrance of a shop. When a woman saw me, she started screaming. There was blood on my arm and on my leg."
A friend of Ali's stopped a passing ambulance and helped him into it. Inside, he found a man whose face was black from burns and whose shoulder was covered with blood. A younger man was bleeding from his legs. "When he tried to lift one of them it bent not at the knee but from the middle of his thigh," Ali says. "He was screaming, 'Fix my leg! Fix my leg!' "

At the hospital, Ali and the others sat in a corridor waiting to be treated by the overstretched medical team. "There were children there who were all red," he remembers. "It looked as if they had no faces, they were so covered with blood."

After waiting a while he was transferred to another hospital, where a doctor examined him. "The doctor told me I just had two bits of shrapnel in my arm and leg," Ali says. "He asked me why I was crying. I told him it wasn't for myself but for all the boys and girls around me."

The doctor took out what looked like pliers and asked Ali to look away. "He got the first bullet out, but the second didn't come so easily and I screamed."

After Ali has finished telling me this story I look around at his immaculately clean apartment. On one side of the room are a pile of paintings. He points at three small ones hanging on the wall, a mixture of orange and red splashes. "These are my attempts at surrealism," he says.

"Immediately after the war, I had a strong feeling of optimism. I was sure the Saddam era wouldn't come back, we had money and were spending all the money.

"But then the conspiracy theories started. I began hearing my brothers and friends say the Americans were here only for the oil, and after that I would go to bed and lie awake thinking how much oil they were stealing from me. Now I don't care if they steal the money, I am so tired."

"I ask myself why life in Iraq is so cheap. We are living in a nightmare. It is like there is a camera recording us and by its light we see images of death and carnage everywhere. The Iraqi have good hearts, but we are living in a state of hysteria."

This is Ali's second apartment. His first was blown up. On a mobile phone he shows me grainy video footage of smoke mixed with broken furniture. There are some muffled sounds and then I make out someone shouting: "Are you OK? This is a mortar. We're getting shelled."
In fact it was a car bomb, Ali says.

He shared that flat with two other friends, Mamdouh and Sarmad. "They were the best people in the world. Mamdouh and I would listen to [the Arab singer] Fairuz and paint all night.
"The night before that bomb, Mamdouh told me he felt guilty he hadn't done any work for so long. He told me he would go out for breakfast early in the morning.

"I stayed in the flat, sleeping. Then I heard the first explosion. It was at the end of the street. I went to the window to look, and then as I was walking back the second bomb went of, just under my window."

Emotional

As Ali ran down the stairs, he saw someone who lived on the first floor wrapped in a blanket. He was dead. "I asked if anyone had seen Mamdouh and Sarmad. They told me no one had seen them. I was crying in the street . A few hours later a friend called me and told me that Sarmad was dead and Mamdouh was in hospital."

Ali went to the hospital. His eyes and voice are calm - as usual - while he recounts the scene. "He was lying on a bed there in the Kindi hospital, there was a filthy smell all around, the smell of urine. He looked like Mamdouh, but he was like someone else ... he smiled and I smiled back, but I felt a great pain in my heart." Two days later, Ali tells me, Mamdouh died.

"We came, his friends, me and Hassan and Hadi, and washed him and put him in a shroud. You know I am too emotional. I cry very quickly. For six months I didn't talk to anyone, I was just sad and silent.

Ali loves Arabic calligraphy and has studied it for many years. Now, he says, all he writes are the black mourning signs for his dead friends, which, according to Iraqi custom, he hangs in the street.



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AFGHANISTAN


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